‘Crutch for the clueless’ or ‘accelerant for the creative’? Marketing’s data future
Current data conversations are dominated by disappearing cookies and replacement first- and zero-party strategies. But what about the future? For The Drum’s Data & Privacy Deep Dive, we asked 10 experts from The Drum Network how data’s role in marketing will mature.
How will data’s role in marketing change? / Tom Parkes via Unsplash
Joel Coppersmith, global director of measurement and effectiveness, Assembly
The future of data is the same as its past. Data is a crutch and a veil for the clueless, but it’s an accelerant and a driver of change and insight for those who have creativity and connection to their consumers.
Yuka Uchijima, head of insight and research, Ogilvy UK
There’ll be a shift toward looking for the most relevant datasets. It’s not necessarily true that more is more and bigger is better, or that we should be just hungry for every source of data. Big data is still important, but it’s the most relevant data points that will help us answer the questions that we need to be answered, move brands, tell stories and innovate. It will all be about refining our datasets to answer the right questions.
Nathan Hugenberger, chief technology officer and executive vice-president of science, Known
Marketers need to be data connoisseurs. They need to understand the data points, the data models and the data sources, and sort through which are actually relevant to the decision at hand and which aren’t.
‘Data’ is a powerful term. When you use the term ‘data’ in a meeting, it can make decisions happen, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve used the right data point to answer the question. It’s a powerful weapon that needs to be wielded thoughtfully. That requires marketers to understand the data in a way that they sometimes don’t. We need to be thoughtful consumers of the data.
Thierry Ngutegure, head of insight, Journey Further
Data needs to go back to what it was created for: the ultimate truth teller, getting rid of our historic ‘forcing a square peg into a round hole’ narrative. Data’s role needs to be stopping us from obsessing over short-term optimization. We’re optimizing to death; it’s at a point where I’m optimizing my sleep. It’s getting chaotic, but there’s an opportunity for us to take a step back and experiment.
Carly Longo, senior manager, technology strategy, Merkle
The greatest challenge is not overcoming the death of third-party cookies and data privacy; it’s more about how we harness the value of customer data. It’s both our industry’s greatest challenge and opportunity; right now we have an opportunity to establish a foundational set of common KPIs, privacy and governance principles; we can then start to decentralize more of the ownership of data across organizations (and across technologies) to allow businesses to get the greatest value out of customer data.
Shelley Pisarra, executive vice-president, Wasserman
Data is not going anywhere and it’s going to be up to us how we use it. We’re going to have to get really comfortable with revisiting our business objectives, considering what we’re trying to get the consumer to do, and forcing more discussions as organizations and brand leaders about what we’re trying to accomplish.
All these recent challenges have forced us to go back to the drawing board and think more about what we’re trying to do. If we use the data to keep us honest and on track, we’ll find we can use a lot less data and can be sharper in our objectives. That means using data in a very transparent way, debunking myths, being true to measurement and not being afraid of optimization. There’s so much currency that exists in the world of marketing and consumer connection that’s rooted in data – we just need to help folks sift their way through it and assign purpose to it.
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Rebecca Fell, marketing strategist, Rawnet
Now’s the perfect time for us to use data fully to our advantage. It’s a chance for us to call clients who are trying to jump on the data and optimization bandwagons, who are trying to think trend-first, and get them to sit down and think about what they need to use this data for. In the long run, it’s going to help us not waste time and resources trying to get all the data and all the information at once. We can streamline that process: problem-data-solution, rather than wanting to know all the answers at once.
Aleksandra Semenenko, data science senior manager, Artefact
Data can confuse you; it can drive you to the point of not understanding anything and making bad decisions. Or data can solve all your problems. Right now, we’re somewhere in between. We have to come back to the whiteboard and define where we’re going. What are our targets? What do we believe about our businesses? Once we’ve defined that, then we can use data to support or reject our hypotheses. Data is always a support. I don’t think that data is the ultimate driver, because we’re drowning in it.
Anita Klinkosz, digital strategist, Search Laboratory
I hope we’ll see changes in the ways that we collect data and what data we collect, pivoting to the ‘why’ rather than simply the ‘what.’ What’s important is the way that we use data. We’ll rely much more on model data to fill in the gaps, and to understand trends and behaviors that are driving performance.
Stephen Hartman, digital marketing consultant, DRPG
Data tells a story. It’s the transparency behind that story that now becomes ever clearer as we break down what’s required. At the moment, you can make things say what you need them to say to support a cause. But the more we look at the value and quality of data, the more we can get transparently behind it; you can’t just hide behind figures for the sake of hiding behind figures, but wear them on your sleeve.
How can we start to mold conversations to offer more each time, rather than just giving big, generic datasets to support a cause? I hope we’ll see a shift toward looking at whole journeys and the full funnel; how each individual data point can be affected by little elements. Sure, you can optimize things to death. But if you optimize things with purpose, it doesn’t mean changing everything. It means making the changes that you need to make.
For more on how the world of data-driven advertising and marketing is evolving, check out our latest Deep Dive.
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